Kitchen Catastrophe: Week 1 Recap

After a weekend bumbling my way through the kitchen, many lessons have been learned.

  • The “prep time” given in any recipe is probably a fifth of the amount of time you’ll actually spend preparing your dish.
  • Make sure to have a rolling pin when making pies; substituting a can of Pam takes away some of the magic.
  • Always read the entire recipe before beginning (see below for reason why).

Flat Apple Pie

I attempted the pie first, though I’ve never made a pie before and any rationale person in my position would’ve worked up from, say, cookies to cake to pie.  But, it was Saturday night, and with nothing better to do in the suburbs than listen to our downstairs neighbors moaning about their aches and pains (remember, they’re old curmudgeons), I moved ahead.  The recipe yields two pies, just in case you ever decide for yourself that one pie is just not enough, you fat pig.

Like any baked good worth its…sweet?, pie crush has a buttload of butter. And vegetable shortening (whatever that is. I just know that it’s like the Venom symbiote if it attaches itself to you–it is not gonna let go and you will inevitably lose your mind as it consumes your soul).

For the apples, I used dark brown sugar instead of regular. I didn’t notice any stronger of a taste (I’m assuming dark brown sugar has a more caramel-y taste? Help me out here, bakers).

The recipe calls for rolling out your pie crust with this mythical object called a “rolling pin.”  Since I don’t have one, this is merely a fantastical invention on the part of the recipe author. I did, yes, wrap a can of Crisco cooking spray with plastic wrap for lack of any other reasonable alternative.

Now, at 11:30pm, into the oven with ya! I took this opportunity to assess the damage:

Flour, you evil bastard!

40 minutes and an episode of “Justified” later (Boyd Crowder, you crazy sonofagun!), I pulled my pies out of the oven.

Sweet baby Luke Skywalker, the horror! I rolled the crust on this pie a little thin, a fact supported by the transfer from baking sheet to plate:

Whoops.

Thankfully, Pie #2 turned out much better:

The crust was flake-y and buttery, though not sweet enough for my taste. The one thing I did like about this “flat apple pie” is that you can eat a slice of it like a pizza. Since that’s exactly what America needs: pies you can eat like pizza.

Kitty, as you can see, was really thrilled about my first pie success:

Sunday, I took on the Meatloaf Muffins.  If you don’t factor in the cost of things most people probably already have in their cabinets, like Worcestershire sauce or bread crumbs, this recipe will still cost you $15 just in meat and barbecue sauce! This cooking nonsense is expensive.

Unfortunately, this cooking attempt resulted in a big fat DUD. This may be due to the fact that I didn’t read the directions carefully enough when actually mixing the ingredients together.  See, I’m goin’ along, mixing the meat, the egg, the onion, the bread crumbs, etcetera and so on.  Then the next step is to “mix together the smoky barbecue sauce,” so I dump the whole cup of Stubb’s in there before I read the rest of the sentence: “…the salsa and the Worcestershire sauce. Pour half of the mixture into the bowl with the meatloaf mix…” GAH!  So there I am, trying in vain to scoop out the extra half-cup of barbecue sauce. After a while, I just gave up and then divided the mixture up into the muffin tray.

As you can see, the meatloaf was not all that easy to get out of the tray, even though I coated the muffin cups with olive oil as required in the recipe.  Granted, this may also have something to do with the fact that my meatloaf had about twice as much liquid as it should have.

Anyway, the meatloaf muffins were…messy, and ended up being more of a meat scramble than loaves or muffins.  Enough meat was left over from the original batch that I was able to cook a second round for a little longer (40 minutes instead of the original 30 for these larger muffins), and they turned out a little better.

So, in sum, Week 1 was a mixed bag. It was all edible, though I obvs need to work on my presentation…and reading comprehension skills.

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4 thoughts on “Kitchen Catastrophe: Week 1 Recap

  1. Tips from a baker:
    1. When baking pie, always always always make sure your ingredients are super cold (yes, even the flour–put it in the freezer for 10 minutes to get it nice and chilly). It looked like you did a great job of getting a flaky crust, but keeping things super cold will help with consistency issues and prevent you from overworking or overrolling your dough.
    2. You were right on the sugar front–brown sugar adds depth of color and flavor (a bit more caramel-y in taste than plain ol’ white sugar). It also adds moisture to baked goods, which may account for the crust crumbling, or the sugar seeping out (having ruined some good baking sheets due to burnt-on caramel, I always take a sec to put some parchment paper down on my baking sheet… or you could use aluminum foil in a pinch!)
    3. With regard to prep time – when multitasking between two cooking projects, add at least an hour of prep time for each recipe. Sure the muffins may take only 15 minutes to whip together, but when you’re worried about something on the stove bubbling over and you’re worried about overbeating your eggs for something else, you enter a frenzied universe where organization and order vanish and suggested prep-time is meaningless. Not that I’d know from first-hand experience or anything…

    Kudos to you for taking on this whole project! The pie looked delish (and really, if your pie crust breaks–I can never get the first piece out of the plate without it falling apart–you can always just top it off with so much ice cream or whipped cream that you’ll never know it broke in the first place!

    1. Thanks for the tips, Kelly! I would never have known about chilling the ingredients for the crust.

      I actually have parchment paper; it didn’t even occur to me to use it! I did flour the baking sheet to prevent sticking (which worked for the most part), but parchment paper would’ve saved me a lot of time.

      Oh, and P.S.: writing 650 words about Panko bread crumbs is way more difficult than you’d think!

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